Newsline from EDINA
December 2004: Volume 9, Issue 4

EDINA > News > Newsline > Newsline 9.4 > Working together on spatial service interoperability


Working together on spatial service interoperability

by James Reid

JISC has recently funded a six-month project to develop a set of simple applications that demonstrate how interoperability might benefit research and teaching. Using spatial data, these applications will show how it is possible to access, combine and view maps and spatial data which are held in databases that are geographically distributed.

JISC has been actively investing for the past five years in the development of innovative spatial data services, and related tools and infrastructure to support the use of such data. Some services are now relatively well-established: UKBORDERS and Digimap at EDINA and Landmap at MIMAS, for example. Our project will illustrate further uses of the spatial data resources already at the disposal of the HE and FE communities.

The JISC 5 Year Strategy includes the goal to build an online ‘Integrated Information Environment’ (IIE) providing secure and convenient access to a comprehensive collection of scholarly and educational material. The IIE is underpinned by a technical architecture specifying the set of standards and protocols that will enable users to identify and access information, move seamlessly from one database or service to another, and to access multiple databases and services from a single service. To date interoperability within the IIE has focused on cross-searching catalogues and the like. There has been little work done on interoperating with content services through the use of web services and the merging of the content retrieved.

The use of open standards to support interoperability is an integral part of strategies for JISC services and projects. For example, by using Open Geospatial Consortium (www.opengis.org) interface specifications, EDINA has deployed a range of standards-based web services to support the delivery of maps and data across a number of services. Thus, the Ordnance Survey maps aid the user of UKBORDERS service draw select boundary data, from the databases held in the Digimap service.
A formal study of spatial interoperability between the national data centres, or between the national data centres and users in institutions, is timely:

More information on the project can be found on the project web site at http://edina.ac.uk/projects/interoperability/. Led by EDINA, partners on the project include MIMAS, the Centre for Computational Geography (Leeds University) and the Department of Geomatics (UCL), with support from the NERC Data Grid.